Mainstream media is so predictable with their binary framing of controversial issues (as either pro or con), their proclivity toward sensationalism and their power to set the agenda for what they think is important. A cursory review of news sources frames the war on women as an exercise in finger pointing. Obama, Democrats and feminists accuse the Republicans of starting the war. Republicans counter by accusing the Democrats of making up the war for political gain. That’s the binary framing that the media promotes. Regardless of who started the battle, the sensationalism is highly entertaining.
One Charleston Gazette editorial claimed that “the current Republican presidential campaign contains a weird assault on rights of American women.” Another post from the Progressive asserted “The Republicans are on a rampage. Like a bunch of drunken frat boys, egged on by their leader — that big, fat, bullying lout Rush Limbaugh — they’re taunting women, calling us “sluts,” and suggesting policies like forced vaginal probes for abortion patients and letting a woman’s boss decide what kind of birth control coverage she should get.” And from politcususa, Jason Easley called the Republican war on women “a poltical affirmation of misogyny.” Kellie Overbey (asisfor.org) claims that this viral power grab from a misogynistic cultish, maniacal lust for power” threatens women at their very core. But my all time favorite comes from Charlotte Taft, Abortion Care Network, when she wrote “My observation is that if the Republican Taliban has its way only corporations and fertilized eggs will be recognized as people with any rights!”
Beyond the sensationalism is the utterly egregious assault on women’s reproductive health. The Republican pandering to the religious right and to less educated and lower income white men, codifies the GOP as womb warriors. From attempts at state-mandated transvaginal ultrasounds to fetal personhood laws, from actual defunding Planned Parenthood to justifiable homicide law to a killing committed in the defense of an unborn child, the war has been an attack on women, their agency, and their legal and reproductive rights. Ruth Conniff, Editor of the Progressive wrote “It’s one thing to drive a wedge between Americans over issues like regulating late-term abortion. But it’s quite another to pivot to an all-out campaign to control, intimidate, and humiliate women as a group.” I’m not sure I’d call it a campaign. It’s more like a 21st century Inquisition. But modern women aren’t taking this battle sitting down.
In a call to action to defend women’s rights and the pursuit of equality, UniteWomen.org women gathered in state capitals across the nation this past weekend to shout “Enough is Enough!” Angry with Congress, the White House, Democrats and Republicans, the outrage expressed by young and old alike points to one clear message: The men running this country are out of touch. As half of the nation’s population, women know more about what is in their best interest than a handful of men, mostly religious, many playing cheap political games and orchestrating a war against women. Their messages went right to the heart of their concerns. One woman carried a sign with an image of a uterus and text that listed things that belong is a uterus (hormones, baby, IUD) and things that don’t belong in a uterus (government, ‘persons’, religion, misplace moral outrage). Another sign read “women’s rights are human rights.” Or one I found particularly funny was an e-card “Ever notice when the Muslims suppress women’s rights, we call them terrorists, but when Catholics do it, we call them Bishops? ROFL” And then there is the elegance of simplicity, “I have the uterus. I make the rules.”
So, did the media provide much coverage for UniteWomen rallies? Nope. That’s how it goes. While bloggers and journalists posted editorials, commentaries and cartoons, mainstream media chose to avoid the fuss. But that didn’t stop thousands of women and men from rallying in state capitals from Austin, Sacramento, Denver, and Atlanta to Harrisburg, Richmond, Juneau and Montgomery.
And in cyberspace, women continue to rally. When women are pissed, they will find a way to get their messages known, mainstream media or not. I strongly suspect that the good ole boys, particularly the GOP, will finally realize in November that women have had enough.
Women know, as Andy Ostroy writes, if the Republicans “truly cared about women as much as they contend, they’d stay out of their bedrooms and vaginas and stop trying to cut everything that supports them and their families. Don’t think women won’t go to the polls in November remembering who’s on their side and who isn’t.”